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Number of cannabis users worldwide by region 2010-2018

There are currently over 250 million cannabis users worldwide. The highest number of cannabis users can be found in Asia, followed by the Americas and then Africa. The use of cannabis varies depending on the country and region as laws surrounding the sale and use of the drug differ greatly. Some countries and regions maintain harsh penalties for the sale and use of cannabis while others have decriminalized it and more recently even completely legalized it for recreational sale and use.


Cannabis is by far the most used illicit drug worldwide. Cannabis produces physical and mental effects that change a user’s perception, heighten mood and increase appetite, but can also cause anxiety and paranoia. There has been increased interest in cannabis as a medicine in recent years, with a number of countries legalizing it for this purpose. As a medicine it has been found to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, reduce chronic pain, and improve appetite.

Legal cannabis in North America

Canada as well as a growing number of U.S. states have recently legalized the sale and use of recreational cannabis. Worldwide legal cannabis spending is predicted to reach some 32 billion U.S. dollars by the year 2022, with the United States and Canada accounting for the vast majority of this market. The state of Washington alone reported sales of over 534 million U.S. dollars in 2018.

Estimated number of cannabis users worldwide from 2010 to 2018, by region (in millions)*

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period

2010 to 2018

Age group

15-64 years

Supplementary notes

* This statistic includes all persons who consumed cannabis at least once in the particular year. All numbers are maximum estimates.
Data prior to 2018 have been taken from previous editions of the same source.

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